Palaeoenvironments of insular Southeast Asia during the Last Glacial Period: a savanna corridor in Sundaland?
Consideration of a range of evidence from geomorphology, palynology, biogeography and vegetation/climate modelling suggests that a north-south 'savanna corridor' did exist through the continent of Sundaland (modern insular Indonesia and Malaysia) through the Last Glacial Period (LGP) at times of lowered sea-level, as originally proposed by Heaney [1991. Climatic Change 19, 53-61]. A minimal interpretation of the size of this corridor requires a narrow but continuous zone of open 'savanna' vegetation 50-150 km wide, running along the sand-covered divide between the modern South China and Java Seas. This area formed a land bridge between the Malaysian Peninsula and the major islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo. The savanna corridor connected similar open vegetation types north and south of the equator, and served as a barrier to the dispersal of rainforest-dependent species between Sumatra and Borneo. A maximal interpretation of the available evidence is compatible with the existence of a broad savanna corridor, with forest restricted to refugia primarily in Sumatra, Borneo and the continental shelf beneath the modern South China Sea. This savanna corridor may have provided a convenient route for the rapid early dispersal of modern humans through the region and on into Australasia.